AFRICAN LIFE COPING
Theory and practice
- DR JOHANN BROODRYK
Paper delivered at CCEAM Conference
Conference theme: Recreating Linkages between
Theory and Praxis in Educational Leadership
12 – 17 October 2006:
Lefkosia (Nicosia): CYPRUS
UBUNTU: AFRICAN LIFE COPING SKILLS
Theory and practice
- Dr Johann Broodryk
In this paper Ubuntu (the Zulu word meaning “humanness”) is discussed in context of its relationship with ancient African values, life coping skills and the consequent practical outcomes when these skills are applied. It will be argued that these human-based life coping skills of Africa are ready for exportation to the global world, since their applications will benefit all leaders on all levels and countries all over the world. A comparison will also be made with the internationally acclaimed positive life guidelines of Dale Carnegie, influential American writer, to indicate that that Ubuntu life coping skills have the potential of being relevant and applicable to other cultures as well.
As the Black Conscious Movement leader Steve Biko (1970:46) declared: “The great powers of the world may have done wonders in giving the world an industrial and military look, but the great still has to come from Africa - giving the world a more human face”
Ubuntu as an ancient philosophy or worldview has its roots deeply anchored in traditional African life.
It is defined as the “art of being a human being” (Bhengu, 1996: 10). A more comprehensive definition is: Ubuntu is an ancient African worldview based on the primary values of intense humanness, caring, sharing, respect, compassion and associated values, ensuring a happy and qualitative human community life in the spirit of family. (Broodryk, 2002:56)
These primary values are not abstract, and since they form the foundations of the Ubuntu life coping skills, the values will manifest in their practical applications during the exposition of the Ubuntu personality.
IMPORTANCE OF UBUNTU
The importance of Ubuntu philosophy in South Africa is reflected as Ubuntu being
• the value base of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (see section on Human Rights), which is generally
regarded as a recommendable constitutional model in the
part of the vision and mission of the transformation of the new public service in the spirit of Batho Pele (people first)
a principle upon which, as stated in the appropriate White
Paper, all future policies on welfare will be based
part of the White Paper of various government departments like the Department of Social Development, Education, Safety and
part of the mission of the National Library of South Africa
the business philosophy of various companies in the private
taught at tertiary institutions under disciplines like Education, Welfare, Philosophy, Philosophy of Education, Anthropology,
Sociology, Criminology, Public Administration, Law and
the value base of National Education and being lectured in
schools as part of the subject Guidance
the basis upon which the hearings of the post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation commissions was held
the basis of several national youth development programmes
and strategies (Pres Thabo Mbeki reminded 100,000 youth
leaders, at a youth rally on 16 June 2006 in Soweto, to maintain and practise the values of Ubuntu) and
the philosophical framework of the National Moral
Regeneration Movement of the Republic of South Africa.
Ubuntu is present in all the languages of Africa, for example Zulu
(A combination of these words is often made to cover the
above two languages in Ubuntu-Botho:
the meaning however remains the same).
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